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Punitive Damages: What You Should Know

Punitive Damages: What You Should Know

Shapiro Law Team December 13, 2022 Personal injury

When another person’s reckless or negligent actions caused an injury to you or a loved one, you may be entitled to punitive damages as part of your settlement. Punitive damages are court-ordered payments the guilty party must pay in addition to compensatory damages. Sometimes referred to as exemplary damages, punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party beyond compensation to the aggrieved party.

What Qualifies for Punitive Damages

Unfortunately, not all personal injury cases qualify for punitive damages. To be awarded punitive damages in your personal injury or wrongful death claim, the defendant must be found to be acting with an “evil mind.” It may seem vague and ominous, but proving an “evil mind” usually comes down to one of two things—either the defendant had ill will toward the victim and caused harm, or they knew what they were doing was unsafe and could cause damage, but continued anyway. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer in Mesa could help you understand whether your claim meets this standard.

Punitive Damages in Different Types of Lawsuits

  1. Car Accidents—If a driver of a vehicle intentionally rams another person or if that driver does something significantly reckless that they know will cause harm, the victim could be awarded punitive damages.
  2. Medical Malpractice—It’s hard to think a medical professional would ever intentionally harm a patient, but it can and does happen occasionally. An example of this would be a nurse giving an uncooperative patient a sedative to keep them quiet or calm despite it not being prescribed, which could lead to an adverse reaction and harm.
  3. Wrongful Death—An example of when a victim can be awarded punitive damages in a wrongful death may include an employer knowingly allowing employees to work with defective equipment or failing to replace or repair equipment.

Punitive Damages Rule

Punitive damages are awarded in your personal injury cases like wrongful death. For your claim to be awarded, the judge or jury must find the defendant guilty of acting with an “evil mind.” The next way to describe an “evil mind” would be when a person acts with ill intentions, knowing they will cause harm. Another situation that may qualify is a person knowingly doing something that is unsafe and likely to hurt someone but doing it anyway.

 

If you were recently in an out-of-state car accident and can’t agree on a settlement or think you’re not getting fairly compensated, it’s time to lawyer up.
Learn more about What To Do If You Are In An Out-Of-State Car Accident.

What Is Arizona’s Punitive Damages Statute?

The judge or jury hearing a personal injury case may award a victim several kinds of damages, including punitive damages. But before the victim can be awarded punitive damages, the defendant must be found acting with an “evil mind.” This can make it difficult to be awarded punitive damages, as proving or convincing a judge or jury that the defendant acted with an “evil mind” isn’t clear-cut. A defendant has to meet somewhat arbitrary standards such as acting with ill will or knowingly putting someone in danger.

The Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Compensatory damages help compensate the victim (or their family in the case of wrongful death) to recover from losses. Medical bills, inability to work, and future expenses can pile up following a personal injury or wrongful death. Other forms of loss include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more. These damages are the most common form of compensation for personal injury cases.

On the other hand, punitive damages are rarely awarded in Arizona. The court must find the defendant to be significantly reckless in their actions and exhibit intentionally harmful behavior. When reviewing whether punitive damages can be awarded, a court will look at the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct and the amount of money it would take to deter the defendant from doing this again. To get a better understanding of whether your case meets this standard, contact a personal injury lawyer in Mesa.

Can Attorneys Help Recover More Damages Compared to an Insurance Offer?

When considering whether to sue for compensatory damages, punitive damages, or both, you should first find an attorney you can trust. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Mesa can help recover far more for you or your loved ones than an insurance company would ever willingly offer. An attorney will have the experience and knowledge of the law necessary to level the playing field.

Reach Out to Shapiro Law Team for Your Free Case Evaluation

Deciding who to hire can be tough, especially during a difficult time. But rest assured, if you choose Shapiro Law Team, you’re getting a compassionate team who will do everything in their power to get you total compensation. We’re your local personal injury lawyers in Mesa, and we have a proven track record of helping Arizona victims. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

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